Support for Aging-out Foster Kids with Their Own Children…Former WA Justice Resigns Over Death Penalty….CA Mental Health Courts….from Drug Dealing to QuickBooksMay 1st, 2015 by Taylor Walker
LA SUPES MOVE FORWARD ON CREATING SUPPORT SYSTEMS FOR YOUNG PARENTS WHO ARE AGING OUT OF THE FOSTER CARE SYSTEM
On Tuesday, the LA County Board of Supervisors formally approved a two-year pilot program to prevent intergenerational abuse among foster children who become parents. Now the Department of Children and Family Services can move forward on a contract with Imagine LA, the non-profit that will be providing the services to foster kids who have young children and are aging out of the foster care system.
Specifically, Imagine LA will pair the young parents with a group of volunteer mentors to help with every day parenting activities, creating a support system that new parents outside the child welfare system often receive from their own parents and extended families.
The program, which may be renewed for one additional year at the end of the first two years, will be evaluated by the USC School of Social Work.
In LA County where 38% of California’s foster kids reside, 50% of foster kids who age out of the system end up homeless or incarcerated, according to Alliance for Children’s Rights. And, girls in foster care in LA are 2.5 times more likely to be pregnant by age 19 than girls not involved in the child welfare system. Fifty percent of 21-year-old young men aging out say they have gotten someone pregnant, compared to 19% of 21-year-old males not in foster care.
According to Imagine LA, since launching it’s first family mentorship team in 2008, the non-profit has worked with 68 families with whom they have had positive outcomes:
* 100% of families maintained their housing
* 100% of children achieved ASQ (under 5 year developmental standards) or grade level school proficiency with the majority excelling
* 100% of high school-aged youth graduated and pursued higher education
* 100% of participants (adults and children) received annual medical and dental exams
* 75% of families increased their household earned income, on average an increase of 67%
According to Imagine LA’s CEO and President, Jill Bauman, a participating family gets paired with a custom mentor team and a Team Manager who work together to “make sure all the resources, skills and habits the family needs stick. They are in it for the long haul,” Bauman says. “The young people in this program will get help with everything from finding and keeping employment, to learning how to budget, cook, parent, and utilize healthcare, to getting a ‘mom’ break when they need it most. And the children will have other caring resourceful adults also nurturing their development.”
For more information on the specific roles and responsibilities of mentor team members, visit Imagine LA’s website.
Note: the above video shares the stories of Imagine LA’s participating parents who have struggled with homelessness. The new program approved by the LA Supes will be specifically tailored to aging-out foster kids.
THE WASHINGTON STATE JUSTICE WHO LEFT THE BENCH BECAUSE HE COULD NO LONGER UPHOLD CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
On Wednesday, while the US Supreme Court debated lethal injection protocol, specifically, the use of the sedative midazolam. That same day, on the other side of the country, the Washington State Supreme Court held a memorial service for former justice Robert Utter, who died in October.
the fact that the two things happened on the same day had a significance
Utter resigned from the state’s high court in 1995—after 23 years on the bench—in protest of the death penalty. In his resignation letter, Utter wrote, “We continue to demonstrate no human is wise enough to decide who should die.”
The Marshall Project’s Ken Armstrong has Robert Utter’s story, including what convinced him to leave the high court. Here are some clips:
Utter’s resignation was part of a string of judicial condemnations of the death penalty in the mid- and late 1990s. The most famous of these came from the U.S. Supreme Court, when Justice Harry Blackmun wrote in a 1994 dissent: “From this day forward, I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death.” But justices on state courts also joined in, with Utter’s resignation followed by Illinois Supreme Court Justice Moses Harrison II warning of the inevitability of an innocent person being executed. “When that day comes, as it must, my colleagues will see what they have allowed to happen, and they will feel ashamed,” Harrison wrote in a 1998 dissent.
On the state Supreme Court, Utter dissented two dozen times in cases where his colleagues upheld a death sentence. (Often, those sentences were thereafter reversed in the federal courts.) His chief criticism was the unequal application of the law. He would write time and again of how one defendant had received a death sentence while others, whose crimes were worse and whose circumstances were less forgivable, had not. In the 1990s, two events helped convince him to walk away. One was the 1993 execution of Westley Allan Dodd, the state’s first execution since 1963 and the country’s first hanging since 1965. The second was reading “Hitler’s Justice,” a book by Ingo Müller, a German lawyer. In a law review article published in 1997, Utter wrote that Müller “chronicles how the entire legal system, including judges, lawyers, and lawmakers, were co-opted to serve a lawless regime with the corresponding death of the rule of law and its legal institutions. … In fact, he told of only two non-Jewish judges who actively protested the actions of the Nazi government by resigning.”
In a long interview conducted as part of the Washington Secretary of State’s Legacy Project, Utter explained how the book made his choice clear.
“Nobody stood up,” he said. “I had to.”
There’s more, so read the rest.
CALIFORNIA’S CHIEF JUSTICE SEZ ALL CA COUNTIES SHOULD HAVE MENTAL HEALTH COURTS
While sitting in on Sacramento Superior Court’s Mental Health Court, California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, a Republican, pointed out that only 27 of the state’s 58 counties have mental health diversion courts despite their proven ability to reduce recidivism.
Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye said that although the state appropriated $15 million in one-time funds for diversion courts, many counties may not be able to afford them when the start-up money runs out.
Capital Public Radio’s Bob Moffitt has the story. Here’s how it opens:
In Sacramento Superior Court’s Mental Health Court, there are plenty of congratulations and plenty of cupcakes for people who used to be known as defendants but who are now known as participants. They stand before Judge Larry Brown. An attorney updates the judge on the status of a participant.
“I am happy to report his drug test was negative.” Brown responds, “Great! That’s terrific. Good job.”
Judge Larry Brown gently reminds one of the participants in the County’s mental health program that progress involves a little work, “None of this punishment. It’s all about having part of a structured program, right?”
On this day, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye sits in the jury box as an observer. She says only 27 of the 58 counties have a mental health court.
“When you give people treatment and they get on some kind of service-provider program, they tend to re-offend less -hence the reduction in recidivism, hence less of a cost to the community -law enforcement, jails and institutions.”
For 18 months, the MacArthur researchers followed 447 participants from mental health courts in San Francisco County and Santa Clara County as well as Hennepin County, MN, and Marion County, IN, as well as 600 people receiving “treatment as usual.”
According to the MacArthur Foundation Mental Health Court Study, the mental health court graduates had lower recidivism rates than mentally ill offenders who were not enrolled in (or who did not finish) the diversion court program.
THE NOT-SO-FAR-FETCHED JUMP FROM DRUG DEALER TO ACCOUNTANT
RadioDiaries’ Joe Richmond talked with Kamari Ridgle, a young, former drug dealer from Richmond, CA who discovered his passion for accounting, after 22 bullets pierced his body, leaving him paralyzed from the waist-down at 15-years-old. According to Kamari, “Every drug dealer is a businessman.”
“Last fall, in my accounting class,” Kamari continues, “the teacher was like, ‘This is what you really need to know: you’ve got expenses, you’ve got revenues.’ That’s when I was just like, ‘Oh, I did this before. I get this…”
(Joe Richmond is also in the middle of a series for This American Life about the city of Richmond where the Office of Neighborhood Safety pays former offenders to stay out of trouble.)